KUALA LUMPUR, 21 September 2017 – ARTAID17, the third installment in the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) art exhibition series, is uniting 40 established and emerging Malaysian contemporary artists on a mission to free the country from the negative impact of HIV and AIDS.
Themed Bebas (Freedom), this year’s collection critically tackles stigma and discrimination – arguably the single largest barrier to HIV and AIDS healthcare – as well as other inequities that harm, hinder, and hamper progress in the AIDS response.
“Through effective prevention programmes, Malaysia has been successful in halving new HIV infections in the past decade. The Government has also been providing free to HIV treatment since 2006. However, only 40 per cent of people living with HIV are receiving treatment, a very low percentage considering that free medication is provided by the Government,” said Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman of the MAF.
“Feeling the threat of stigma and discrimination, many people living with HIV continue to live their lives in fear and on the fringes of society. Many are afraid to come forward for treatment for fear of being exposed, refused treatment, and discriminated against.
“We have also seen the negative impact of stigma and discrimination in all aspects of life – employment, education, healthcare, and law enforcement – despite evidence showing that HIV, if treated, has no impact on productivity and risk of onward transmission through casual contact. From employees being demoted, forced to resign, and terminated to students having their diplomas withheld – all on the account of their HIV positive status – injustices occur everyday and they sadly go unnoticed and unreported.
“As the MAF expands its efforts to address this situation through policy change and community empowerment initiatives, what better way to create awareness and a stronger sense of urgency than ARTAID17,” she added.
The ARTAID series is the brainchild of Ahmad Zakii Anwar, undoubtedly one of Malaysia’s most illustrous and celebrated fine artists renowned for his still-life portraits and paintings. It began three years ago when he rallied his peers, including those from Indonesia, to help him raise funds for the MAF, of which he is a Trustee.
Now serving as advisor of ARTAID17, Zakii commented, “I am proud to see how much the ARTAID series has grown, from a group of artists who just wanted to contribute back to society to an annual art exhibition showcasing some of the most compelling works of our homegrown talents on subjects related to HIV and AIDS that are often considered taboo.”
“Thanks to the concern and generosity of collectors and other patrons of the arts, we have raised close to half a million ringgit in the past two editions.”
Proceeds from the sale of the ARTAID17 collection will be channeled to the MAF for its high-impact HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support programmes benefiting particularly underprivileged women and children in hard-to-reach settings.
“While I, personally, avoid social commentary in my work, as an artist, I will continue to create platforms such as ARTAID so that my peers will have the opportunity to speak to issues that can effect social change,” added Zakii who has been involved in the HIV and AIDS field for over a decade through Intan Lifezone, a Partner Organisation of the Malaysian AIDS Council in his native Johor Bahru.
Returning for the second time as curator of ARTAID17 is visual artist, printmaker, and art writer, Noor Mahnun Mohamed.
“Building upon the lessons learned from last year’s ARTAID exhibition which explored the theme of ‘love’, I feel there is a need to dig deeper into our conscience and examine the HIV and AIDS situation in Malaysia that continues to be shrouded in myths and misconceptions,” she remarked.
“This year’s theme, Bebas, poses the existential question of freedom and liberation. When viewed from the lens of HIV and AIDS, it espouses the notion of freeing our minds from the root cause of stigma and discrimination – be it ignorance or apathy – and challenging our long-held beliefs, biases, and prejudices.
“As a society, we simply must catch up to the progress made in the AIDS response. It saddens me that, even after thirty years, we are still talking about stigma and discrimination. But until we put an end to it, the discourse must go on,” she concluded.
The ARTAID17 exhibition is currently on view at White Box @ Publika, Solaris Dutamas until 27 September 2017. It is open to the public for free from 11 AM to 9 PM daily.
Visit the ARTAID17 webpage to view the complete list of participating artists and their artworks, pricing and up-to-date sales status. To make your purchase or enquire further, contact Arif at 012-9594596. All purchases are eligible for tax exemption.
Malaysian AIDS Foundation
The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) was formed in 1993 to raise and administer funds to support the activities and programmes of the Malaysian AIDS Council and its Partner Organisations. MAF funds high-impact HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes such as harm reduction, s helter homes, financial and medical assistance schemes as well as HIV health literacy and empowerment activities for underprivileged women and children living with HIV and other key populations nationwide. Learn more at http://yam.org.my.
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